This study found that greater intake of dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetables was associated with a 20 percent to 30 percent lower risk of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), which is the most common form of glaucoma. Glaucoma can lead to vision loss and even blindness (if left untreated).There is evidence that nitric oxide has a role in primary open-angle glaucoma, and that dietary intake of nitrates is beneficial. Green leafy vegetables (iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, mustard, or chard, cooked spinach, and raw spinach) were found to be most beneficial, as well as kale and collard greens. Those who ate the most green leafy vegetables ate about 1.5 servings per day, versus .3 servings daily in the lowest intake group.
Dietary nitrate is predominately derived from green leafy vegetables, which contribute approximately 80% of nitrate intake. But they are found as well in other vegetables, such as beets and carrots. It should be pointed out that those who consumed the most dietary nitrate in this study also consumed more fruits and vegetables, and so also consumed more dietary carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, folate, and vitamin A. Bottom line: try to eat fruits and vegetables daily, especially green leafy vegetables (e.g., a salad). From Science Daily:
Greater intake of dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetables was associated with a 20 percent to 30 percent lower risk of primary open-angle glaucoma, according to a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology.
Elevated intraocular pressure and impaired autoregulation of optic nerve blood flow are implicated in primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG; optic nerve damage from multiple possible causes that is chronic and progresses over time). Evidence suggests that nitrate or nitrite, precursors for nitric oxide, is beneficial for blood circulation. Jae H. Kang, Sc.D., of Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues evaluated the association between dietary nitrate intake, derived mainly from green leafy vegetables, and POAG. The researchers followed up participants biennially in the prospective cohorts of the Nurses' Health Study (63,893 women; 1984-2012) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (41,094 men; 1986-2012). Eligible participants were 40 years or older, were free of POAG, and reported eye examinations. Information on diet was updated with questionnaires.
During follow-up, 1,483 incident cases of POAG were identified. Participants were divided into quintiles (one of five groups) of dietary nitrate intake (quintile 5, approximately 240 mg/d; quintile 1, approximately 80 mg/d). The researchers found that greater intake of dietary nitrate and green leafy vegetables was associated with a 20 percent to 30 percent lower POAG risk; the association was particularly strong (40 percent-50 percent lower risk) for POAG with early paracentral visual field loss (a subtype of POAG linked to dysfunction in blood flow autoregulation).